Reminiscing about South East Asia with a montage

It’s been almost 2 years since we left New Zealand and set off through South East Asia for two months. We went through Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand and at the time we thought we would struggle to live out of a suitcase for that long.  We thought wrong.

I think that trip was the best I’ve been on (which is a tough competition) mainly because it was longer and that allowed us to really soak up the place and relax.

We’ve been throwing ideas around of future longer trips we could take and also getting nostalgic for our trip; back when we didn’t have jobs, a lease on a flat or many possessions.  Life was simple and fun then (not that it’s particularly bad now though!).

We’ve been looking at buying a GoPro for recording some more travel clips along with other gadgets and have been wishing we took more video when we travel.  I spent a bit of time digging around on the computer and I found a treasure trove of video clips from our trip back in 2012.  Most of them are pretty poor quality (I’d like to blame our cheap little camera but mostly its my poor camera skills at fault).  We did manage to do up a bit of a montage of our trip anyway.

Hopefully we get back there one day as this video makes me miss the place!

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Catching Crabs in Langkawi

You can all let out a sigh of relief – we’ve made it to Hanoi, Vietnam safe and sound.  And thankfully the flight here was our last until mid-June (especially now, given the plane crash in Indonesia has reminded me of the main reason I really don’t like flying).

We spent last night in a tiny airport hotel room in Kuala Lumpur so we could make it to the really early flight on time (by the way, 4am wake ups don’t get any easier the more you do them).

Matt in our teeny tiny hotel room

Taken from outside the room cause it was too small inside

Me at sunset

At least the view from our tiny room was nice!

It was bearable for a night and the plus side is that our new room in Hanoi seems palatial in comparison. It is a super nice room though, and the staff at the place we are staying (May De Ville Backpackers) have been really nice and generous with helping us plan and sort out all our little side trips out of Hanoi easily.  And the room only costs $30 a night.  An equivalent in NZ would be about $200 a night so we’re pretty happy with our choice.

Before talking about Hanoi any more though, I should give a quick recap of our time in Langkawi.

After we discovered that the sun burns as badly in Langkawi as it does in New Zealand, our pool and beach time was quite limited.  So we basically just filled up all this spare time by eating. A LOT.  We had some good luck with our choices of local restaurants and quickly became regulars at a few spots (and bonded with one particularly nice effeminate waiter who welcomed us back more energetically each time we turned up) .  It might not have been super cheap but the food was AWESOME.

Our Pool

Our Pool

We did manage to squeeze ourselves in to a small glass cabin and went up the scariest Gondola ever (the thing nearly climbs vertically at one point and constantly threatened to fall off the cable) to get a view of the island.

Up the scary gondala

View from Cable Car

We also had fun chasing frogs and crabs around.  If that doesn’t sound exciting to you then you’ve obviously never done it.

Our foray in to frog chasing reminded us that basically anything that moves is considered fair game for a menu in these parts as a friendly local commented that we “can’t eat those ones – the other ones are the edible type” after enquiring about why we were running around chasing frogs at night.

Catching crabs was also good fun (sorry, had to say it) when the tide was out.  There were these little ones that were ridiculously quick and were all over the place and then there were the Hermit Crabs that would come out and try to slowly make their way home to the Sea.  Some of them managed straight lines but others had had a bit too much sea water to drink and would end up going in (slow) drunken circles.  You have to find your thrills where you can when stuck on an island whilst badly sunburnt.

So that was Langkawi.

Our first impressions of Vietnam have been good.  The traffic is exciting and crazy just as expected (crossing the street is a lot more fun here than back home – we’ll have to post a video of it at some point as we’re pretty awesome at it already), the food (and coffee) is delicious and really cheap (along with everything else), and a “foot massage” actually means a full body massage but still only costs $10.  And the people seem happy.  I like it.

Matt in Hanoi

First Vietnamese coffee!

Very STRONG coffee with sweetened condensed milk

The rest of Hanoi will have to wait for now though as we’re off on a “Party Cruise” (yeah, that’s right, “Party Cruise” – we’re pretty cool) for 3 days, 2 nights on a boat in Ha Long Bay where we’ll hopefully get to tick off number 48 on our 100 Things List:  Swim in Ha Long Bay.

KL – Towers and Caves

Hello, from Langkawi!

We’re both nursing rather painful sunburns (I can’t even name all the different shades of red our skin has changed between in the last couple days) and we don’t have wifi so this post is quickly being written in a cafe by our resort.

We had two days in KL after our time with Lydia which we filled with the usual touristy things. We stayed at Tune hotel which is a chain that promotes itself as 2 star with a 5 star bed and shower. Definitely agree with the shower part, but we both found our legs hanging off the end of the bed. I meant to take a photo of the room as it was so tiny but it definitely did the trick and we ended up with an awesome view of the KL Tower (never mind the horrible photo, it was taken through 2 very dirty windows that we couldn’t open).

View from our room in KL

side note: Most people and travel sites call this Menara Tower but ‘menera’ means ‘tower’ in bahasa so essentially they’re just calling it Tower Tower.

Not too bad for $100 NZD for FOUR nights TOTAL!

We went to the Petronas towers which totally tested my fear of heights. 86th floor observation deck is all I’m going to say about that…

At Petronas Towers

At Petronas Towers

Matt booked us a reservation at a rooftop, poolside bar opposite the Petronas for sunset. Lucky for me it was Ladies Night from 6-9pm which meant FREE yummy (very strong) cocktails. KL? Not the best place for a hangover. Just saying.

But never mind, LOOK AT THE PRETTY VIEW!

At Sky bar

At Sky bar

Also, look at the awesome photo I took with my new lens! Still need to learn how to use it but it certainly has potential! He’s so handsome.

At Sky bar

The next day we did the seemingly impossible and caught the train to Batu Caves. EVERYONE said that you couldn’t catch the train out there and the only way was by taxi which would’ve cost about ten times more than we paid for the train – which was $1…return.

Must say I wasn’t overly excited by the caves. That probably had to do with all the monkeys running around humping each other. I hate monkeys. I’m sure Matt will post some videos of the monkeys once we get internet again.

Starting the climb up to Batu Caves

Batu Caves

So now we’re staying at a beautiful resort (but not too expensive) with an awesome pool (and poolside bar) and amazing beaches. However, we’ve had to give our sunburns a rest by staying indoors which is a bit of shame. It did mean that we got to watch the new Avengers movie at the cinema and learnt a bit of the language by reading Bahasa subtitles (the movie was in English thankfully). Just a bit of education – ‘Ya’ in bahasa means yeah, yes, yep, ok, and uh huh.

Eating ALL THE THINGS

Most of you will know that I spent 6 months in Perth doing a course with YWAM back in 2007. During this course, I was lucky enough to share a dorm with 7 lovely ladies. Thanks to Facebook I’ve been able to keep in touch and have even met up with a couple of them since our course ended.

My bunk buddy (I had the bottom bunk and she had the top) was a very sweet girl named Lydia who was from Malaysia. When she heard that we’d be in KL, she sent me a message saying that we should meet up! I love that this course gave me friends all over the world – very cool!

So, Lydia (and her boyfriend, Jared) were our tour guides for the day and did they ever do an excellent job! We essentially went on a food tour of Malaysia and ate ALL THE THINGS. Matt and I were so full we didn’t have to eat until mid way through the next day.

We started by going to Melaka which is just over an hour’s drive away from KL. It’s a region of Malaysia where the Portuguese settled a long long time ago and you can see the influence they had on the region as well as ruins of the fortress.
In the window

Christ Church

From there we headed to Jonker St which is lined with shops and food stalls where we picked up a fishy looking snack for the walk (and I have no idea what the green stuff inside was).
Fishy Snack

Jared and Lydia took us to a coffee shop that featured the different ways coffee is made in the 13 regions of Malaysia. Coffee (we usually get it cold/with ice because, obviously) here is amazing, I must say! I think they put condensed milk in it – either way it’s very very yummy! I also had my first laksa which was delicious!
Johar cold coffee and laksa
For dinner we went to a unique satay place. I absolutely loved the concept – think satay, fondue style! Basically, you pick from a whole bunch of different types of meat/veggies/eggs (you name it, it was there) on sticks then take it to the table where there’s a pot of boiling satay peanut sauce. There you stick them in the pot to cook!
Ready to be cooked
Cooking in satay sauce
I ended up trying quite a few different things and it was all pretty yummy! I’m lucky in that I do enjoy a lot of different types of food but I have felt that I can’t eat a lot of it at once. Hopefully my stomach adjusts soon.

During our drive back to KL we got to experience one of the best storms I’ve ever seen! Matt and I both spent most of the time ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the lightning and thunder. Pretty sure Lydia and Jared thought we were crazy for enjoying it so much!

To top off the day, we ate AGAIN (!) this time at an Indian place. We had naan with curry sauce and the biggest roti I had ever seen! It’s paper thin (not surprisingly it’s called Roti Tisu) and crispy – almost like a potato chip but covered in oil and sugar.
Roti Tisu
Pretty much the best thing I’ve ever eaten. To prove it, here’s a photo of me with the most ridiculous look on my face.
Naan, Curry, and Roti Tisu
Just realised that most of the photos of me over last couple posts have been of me eating. Accurate, really…
Matt’s trying to be a bit more open minded (stomached?) when it comes to food and so far it seems that he’ll try anything you put in front of him. And I mean anything.

Following on from our ‘What’s in our drink?” post, this is a ‘What the heck is Matt eating?!?’post.

First up,
Trying Chicken Liver
OK this one will be hard as the photo is a little poor (my fault) – did anyone guess chicken liver?

Those of you who have seen Fear Factor will know what this is…
Century Egg
That’s right, a Century egg (covered in satay sauce and ginger). I still can’t believe he ate it (and kept it down)!

Thanks Lydia and Jared for one of the best days we’ve had so far!
Jared, Lydia and I

Singapore Slings and Public Farts

We have arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after catching a train out of Singapore early this morning.  It was a reasonably bland, uneventful train ride that was livened up by Dayna and I completely losing it, laughing until tears streamed down our faces and keeping this up for a good 10 minutes.  I think our fellow passengers thought we were a bit odd.

So what prompted the laughing fit?  It must have been some quality, highbrow humour to amuse such cultured minds as ours right?

Well, a nice little old local lady was seated in the aisle opposite us.  She had already proven herself quite entertaining with her loud voice, intense hand movements and tendency to launch in to long conversations with people who have no idea what she is saying including me (I’m sure she had some good tips on how I should stow my luggage or something but I just had to smile and nod, none the wiser).  Even just pottering about the cabin, she proved quite funny with her exaggerated movements.  Dayna and I were mature and polite though – we just kept nodding and smiling at her.

That all fell to pieces pretty quickly when she got up to go to the bathroom and unleashed a huge roaring fart in our direction.  Nobody else made a peep but Dayna and I were in hysterics.  Farts are funny.  And yes, we are 12.

Funny farting lady

Funny farting lady

And now time for a quick recap of the rest of our time in Singapore…

We got off to a great start in Singapore but it wasn’t all smooth sailing unfortunately.  We wasted an afternoon and evening due to a string of errors and bad luck.

First, we made a special trip in to town to change our extra Singapore dollars into US dollars for later in the trip when all the money changers were actually closed (it was a Sunday).  We took this in our stride though and left to get an early dinner at a hawker centre (giant food court basically) before the highlight of our evening, which was going to be watching the sunset at 1-Altitude (roof top bar, 63 storeys up).

Unfortunately, none of the stalls at the hawker centre were actually open yet (other than a few dodgy looking ones) so we ended up having to settle for Wendy’s (our first lapse in to western food albeit forced).

Lau Pa Sat in the middle of flash buildings

Lau Pa Sat (hawker centre) in the middle of flash buildings

We shook off the disappointment of dinner and left, excited, to go see a beautiful sunset over the city.  However, some inconsiderate (and rich!) people had booked out the whole bar for a private function so no rooftop bar for us.

One Raffles Place

One Raffles Place - no rooftop sunset for us!

Turns out there was a Wendy’s 2 minutes walk from our hotel too so we could have saved ourselves a lot of time by just going there!

So you don’t think we are complete idiots, I should mention that we have had some very successful trips around Singapore and have managed to: visit the Zoo (and see a white tiger playing in the water, chasing a turtle – awesome), visit the Night Safari (we don’t have any photos because, well, it was at night but it was very cool), have a Singapore Sling (for $30! – most expensive drink ever) where it was created – the Raffles Hotel, go up to the top of the architectural achievement that is Marina Bay Sands, see the Light Show on the waterfront, and eat lots of yum local food.

You know those nightmares you get where you go to work and it’s only when you get to your desk that you realise you forgot to wear pants?  Well, we had a real life run in with this while up at the Marina Bay Sands Skypark so here’s a little video to show you what I’m talking about (apologies to Dayna for the crude boob shot that starts this video – I’m still very much a rookie with this little video…that’s the excuse I’m sticking to anyway):

 

And here are a few (of the HUNDREDS) of photos we have already taken (and as always, there are a lot more up on Flickr):
White Tiger 5

Ben & Jerry's!!

Singapore Sling time!

Yum!

Because why wouldn't you have a gondala going through a mall

Because why wouldn't you have a gondala going through a mall

View of the infinity pool

Pose

Marina Bay at night